There is also one other method of procuring gold; by making
it from orpiment,1
a mineral dug from the surface of the earth
in Syria, and much used by painters. It is just the colour of
gold, but brittle, like mirror-stone,2
in fact. This substance
greatly excited the hopes of the Emperor Caius,3
a prince who
was most greedy for gold. He accordingly had a large quantity
of it melted, and really did obtain some excellent gold;4
then the proportion was so extremely small, that he found himself
a loser thereby. Such was the result of an experiment
prompted solely by avarice: and this too, although the price
of the orpiment itself was no more than four denarii per pound.
Since his time, the experiment has never been repeated.